Posted in Growing in the Lord, miscellaneous, miscellaneous how-to

what are you thinking?

I recently received an alert for one of my email addresses. Apparently, having 27,000+ emails triggered the warning indicating I would no longer be able to send or receive any emails unless I went on a deleting spree.

No, I’m not an email horder, but due to the busyness of life, I’d neglected this particular account I’ve had for the past 15+ years and one of many accounts I have for my writing, ministry, jobs, volunteer work, and personal use.

Before I could do a massive delete session, I had to differentiate between those emails I really needed to keep and those that desperately needed to be expunged (like all the advertisements for my favorite clothing store to the tune of 2,893 emails).

There were also a multitude of other less important emails crowding my inbox—useless gunk better directed to the junk mail folder.

As is with the multitude of emails we receive each day, at any given moment, numerous thoughts bombard our mind.

An interesting article on Healthline states, “The results of a 2020 study suggested people typically have more than 6,000 thoughts per day.” Further, upon conducting that study, they determined, “a median rate of about 6.5 thought transitions per minute. This rate appeared to remain fairly consistent over time.”

Roughly 6,000 thoughts a day is an incredible amount of things our brain contemplates and ponders. Some of those thoughts are wonderful and others sneak in without warning, attempting to sabotage our day. Some thoughts are needed, while others are intended to cause worry, fear, temptations, discouragement, or unkindness towards others.

We may not have complete control over what flitters through our minds, but we do have control over what we allow to stay there and manifest itself.

What does the Bible have to say about what we allow to permeate our minds?

Philippians 4:8 states, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Colossians 3:2 encourages us to set our minds on things above.

And Hebrews 12:2 reminds us to fix our eyes on Jesus.

What else can we do “junk” thoughts enter our minds?

We can…

  1. Be mindful of what we allow into our minds. What do we watch, read, and listen to? Who do we hang around? How are they influencing us? It’s a lot easier to be proactive and guard our minds than to remove what has filtered in.
  2. Pray for God to protect our thoughts.
  3. Dig into His Word and remain steadfast in learning more about Him.
  4. Focus our thoughts on Jesus.

Before you go, check out these other posts:

the importance of new beginnings

the importance of recognizing your influence

the top 10 blog posts of 2022

11 verses of hope

book news and giveaways

14 things for girls to consider before dating

launch team opportunities

Posted in Growing in the Lord, health and fitness, miscellaneous, miscellaneous how-to, Miscellanous how-to

5 ways to start your day off right

You wake in the morning and fling open the curtains to find another beautiful sunshine-filled day. Perhaps you reach for a cup of coffee or head to the shower before tending to your job as a wife, mom, dad, grandparent, young adult, teen, employee, or all of the above. Whatever your plans, be sure to do the following to start your day off right. Here are five ways to do just that.

*Spend time with God. Even before I open my eyes, I spend time in prayer thanking Him for giving me another day and praising Him that everyday His mercies are new. I ask Him to help me to be a blessing to others and then offer my prayer requests to Him. Immersing myself in His Word is my next plan of action.

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*Spend time with your spouse and kids. My husband heads to work before 5:00 a.m. on weekdays, much earlier than I start my day. However, on the weekends, we spend some time together before embarking on our day.

As a mom, one of the things I do first thing during the week is to spend a few minutes one-on-one with each of my daughters.

*Drink a glass of water. According to the Livestrong website, “Here’s why you feel parched in the morning: ‘Sleep is dehydrative,” Breus says. ‘On average, people lose a liter of water during the night, depending on the humidity level in your bedroom and your breathing patterns—like if you sleep with your mouth open or closed.’ Since water transports oxygen to your muscles and brain, dehydration can lead to physical and mental grogginess. To replenish your cells and perk up, guzzle at least 16 ounces of H2O.”

There are several benefits of drinking water right after waking. And it’s a great way to start toward your daily hydration. I keep a bottled water on my nightstand for that very reason.

*Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast. On Monday mornings, I teach an early cycling class, so time is more crunched than the rest of the days of the week. However, being sure I get a good breakfast helps start the day off right and gives me energy for daily activities. WebMD has an excellent article detailing why breakfast is so important.

*Do some gentle stretches. Stretching relieves tension and prepares you for the day. It also helps with circulation. As one with a former ankle injury, I always integrate ankle rotations into my morning stretches as well. (Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program).

And if you need some fun music to get you going while you are doing stretches, check out Good Morning by Mandisa.

So embrace every morning and rejoice in the fact that each day is a gift!

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Posted in about my books, about the books, miscellaneous, Other authors' books, Penny's Book News

Love Christian Romance? 52 Books for Free One Day Only!

I rarely post two blog posts two days in a row, but this was just too exciting not to share! An event with 52 Christian romance novels (some pictured below) up for grabs for free doesn’t come around very often.

For you avid readers, there are freebies galore to be loaded onto your Kindle on one day only—today, January 12. You can find all the details here, so be sure to snag some copies of some of the most awesome books by your favorite Christian authors in both historical and contemporary genres!

Check out Faithbooks website for monthly book recommendations.

Posted in book giveaways, Growing in the Lord, importance series, making a difference, miscellaneous, the scripture series, top 10

The top 10 blog posts of 2022

I’m always excited to look back at the prior year and see which blog posts were most popular. For the past several years, the post how to train a deer was in the top ten. This post, written in 2013, was actually a devotional based on a humorous discussion I had with my daughters about deer. I have a hunch the reason for its popularity was because readers were truly interested in learning if—or how—they could train a deer.

This year, how to train a deer fell to the number eleven spot, just out of reach of the top ten, although it continues to garner impressive attention.

Below are the top ten most popular posts in 2022. Click on the “read more” button to read the entire post.

  1. 11 Verses About God’s Unfailing Love

We’ve all been hurt by someone we care about, whether that be a friend, relative, or fellow believer. The sting of betrayal is painful and not something that is easily overcome.

But there is One who will never betray us. He will never walk away from us when times get tough. He will never betray our confidence, share our most precious secrets, give up on us, spread gossip about us, or leave us for someone “better”.

2. Movie Monday: Fearless Faith

I’m always on the lookout for family friendly movies. If they have a great message, all the better. Such is the case with the movie Fearless Faith.

Fearless Faith gives an inside look at what our men and women in blue (and those who love them) face each day. Shep (Ben Davies) and Colton (Jason Burkey) are deputies whose daily agenda often includes drug users, domestic violence calls, hostage situations, and even murders.

3. 21 Awesome Family Movies You May Never Have Heard of

This was originally posted in 2015 and continues to maintain a top spot year after year.

Our family is always on the lookout for wholesome family films for our weekly Family Night. Some of the best movies we’ve ever seen have been undiscovered gems we’ve stumbled across by accident.

The 21 undiscovered treasures below are in no particular order. Some are newer and some have been out for awhile, but they all are must-see movies for your next Family Night!

4. In memory of Stacy Simmons

I just found out that a dear sister in Christ and fellow author, Stacy T. Simmons, died after complications from a surgery she had last week. This was so unexpected. Stacy was a sweet, sweet godly woman, an amazing writer, and so genuine.

5. The Importance of Aligning our Actions with our Words

Have you ever met someone and were astounded to discover that they were a Believer? Perhaps they live a life contrary to that of a Christian. Or perhaps they act flippant about Christianity in the presence of unbelievers

6. Leaving a Godly Legacy

According to Webster’s Concise Dictionary, the word “legacy” means anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor.

Several summers ago at my grandpa, Papa’s, funeral, I was asked to write a lifesketch and speech in memory of him. As I began to work on the speech, I was convicted once again of the importance of the legacy we, as parents, leave behind for our children.

7. 10 ways to Encourage Others

In a world of struggles and disappointments, pain and setbacks, one of the most important things we can do for others is encourage them. Below are 10 ways to do just that.

8. 13 Verses to Comfort the Fearful Heart

There is a lot to fear these days. At every turn, there is something to cause our hearts to panic, our thoughts to veer toward despondency, and our minds to wrestle with the “what-ifs”. At any given moment, trepidation hunkers down for a permanent residency deep within our spirits.

9. 14 Things for Girls to Consider Before Dating

As a mom of daughters, we’ve had many great discussions about things to consider before they choose to date someone.

Everyone will have their own personal likes/dislikes. For example, my girls have mentioned they would never date someone who has a man bun, wears skinny jeans, or has body piercings.

While hair, clothing styles, and body piercings are all a matter of preference, some things are non-negotiable, and while we need to remember no one is perfect, being aware of the following attributes (or lack thereof) will help you make a more informed choice before you choose to date someone.

Below are 14 things to consider before dating that cute guy.

10. 5 Ways to be Your “Sweet Self”

From as far back as I can remember, my mom has always used the saying, “just be your sweet self.”

Whether in day-to-day life or dealing with a difficult situation, my mom reminded my siblings and me that being our sweet selves was, in essence, treating others as we would like to be treated and loving our neighbor. Even when someone was unkind, our response was not to be one of retaliation or revenge, but of kindness.

The five top pages in 2022 in order of popularity were as follows:

  1. Subscribe to my newsletter
  2. Book News and Giveaways
  3. About Me
  4. Mom-Approved Movies
  5. How to start a Sisters in Christ Group

Thank you for joining me for this special “Top 10” list. I’d love to hear which post was your favorite. Happy 2023!

Posted in holidays, miscellaneous

Happy New Year!

As we venture into 2023, May we continue to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2).

Thank you so much for your encouragement and support in 2022. From my family to yours, have a happy and safe New Year and a blessed 2023.

Posted in about my books, about the books, Book News, Growing in the Lord, miscellaneous

Writing Update: When One Door Closes

In Love’s New Beginnings, one of the main characters, Solomon Eliason, struggles with whether or not he’s where God has called him to be.

Have you ever wondered the same thing?

Yesterday I received an adorable gift from one of my awesome readers, Beth. She’d read my book, Hollyhocks, and found a stuffed animal that was an exact replica of Aunt RudyBee, one of the characters.

I started thinking about God’s plan for my writing career and how He has been with me every step of the way, even in times of doubt, and there were many.

In 2004, when I published Hollyhocks, I thought for sure God was planning to have me write children’s books. And continue as a photojournalist, a career I’d undertaken after I quit my career in social services to stay home with my young daughters.

But God had other plans.

In 2005, He redirected my path when a small publisher picked up a nonfiction book I’d written. Later, in 2008, when my second nonfiction book, 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others, was released by Beacon Hill Press, I figured God was leading me along the path of nonfiction. After a flurry of TV appearances, speaking engagements, and numerous radio interviews, it was all but confirmed. Plus, I was still writing nonfiction articles for my photojournalist job. Surely nonfiction would become the gig God wanted me to follow, right?

But God had other plans.

After a door closed on the next nonfiction book, I wondered where God was leading me. Did He even still want me to write?

My family was involved in a serious car accident that, only by His hand, we walked away from it with minor injuries. While I was recovering from those injuries and back-to-back bacterial infections, God redirected my path.

Toward Christian romance.

As I recovered from the injuries and infections, I began to write a historical romance novel, and soon McKenzie became more than just an idea in my mind. After much prayer, I reached out to a publisher. Whitaker House accepted McKenzie and contracted me, not for one, but for three books in the Montana Skies Series. Kaydie and Hailee soon followed.

But then there was a lull for a while after the series. Was God still leading me to write historical romance?

In 2013, I secured an agent, and in 2017 and 2018, I was blessed to be a part of two Barbour Publishing novella collections.

But then there was another lull. What were God’s plans for my writing? During this time, our family had been through a lot. I almost lost my husband after open heart surgery for a hereditary heart condition. The hospital who operated erred and my husband ended up with only one functioning lung. There were also a plethora of other health-related issues, including covid and shingles. My husband also lost his job of nearly two decades.

God is faithful and He brought us through that extremely stressful time in our lives. I’d given Him my writing to do with as He wished when I penned my first book.

But what were His plans?

The wait was hard.

In late 2021, the most exciting thing happened. After an extensive amount of time, Love Under Construction, my contemporary Christian romance novel was released and was the springboard for a barrage of books published in 2022. Historical romance has always been my first love, with a side of Christian contemporary romance, of course.

I recently entertained the thought that God might be calling me to write Christian romantic suspense in addition to historical and contemporary, and two novels were born. But after a couple of very obvious closures on big projects, I again wondered where He would redirect me.

I have those two suspense novels, and I do believe they will see publication someday, but for now, God has kept me on the path of historical romance with a side of contemporary romance.

And I’m fine with that. One hundred percent.

I seek to do what He calls me to and impact lives for Him through my writing. Historical romance is my favorite to write and favorite to read. I pray it’s His will for me to hang-out in the late 1800s (and early 1900s, as is the case for Love in Disguise).

The Lord has closed doors and He has opened them. I’ve received numerous rejections, but He blessed me with the opportunity to release six books in 2022.

And through it all, I pray that I glorify Him with every word written. My prayer is that readers see Him through the words I write.

And speaking of readers, none of this is possible without you.

So what’s next on the agenda? Lord willing, Love’s New Beginnings (Wyoming Sunrise Prequel) will be released on December 13 and Dreams of the Heart (Wyoming Sunrise Series#2) will be released March 7.

When I look back on the past several years of writing, God’s fingerprints on this journey have been evident.

No matter where He leads me in my writing, I pray I heed His direction.

Posted in for the family, miscellaneous, Music, things to do this month

16 awesome songs to add to your Thanksgiving playlist

Need some awesome songs to add to your Thanksgiving playlist? Check out the list below, in no particular order, of songs that express gratitude or are just plain fun.

Every Good Thing by the Afters

Happy Dance by MercyMe

Thank You Lord by Chris Tomlin, Thomas Rhett, and the Florida Georgia Line

Good Life by the Young Escape

Family Table by the Zac Brown Band

God Gave Me You by Blake Shelton

Take it All In by Group One Crew

Stretchy Pants by Carrie Underwood

Thank God for Something by Hawk Nelson

Gobble Gobble by Matthew West

Life is Beautiful by the Afters

Thankful For by Adam Sanders

The Day After Thanksgiving by Brandon Heath

It’s Thanksgiving by Nicole Westbrook

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Mashed Potato Time by Dee Dee Sharp

Before you go, here are some other posts you may enjoy:

10 encouraging blog posts from the past 10 months

book news and giveaways

how to be a Godly leader

seeing the potential

the power of prayer: surviving Papa’s driving

it’s release day for Freedom’s Flight

10 ways to persevere through these challenging times

Posted in making a difference, miscellaneous, Patriotic

A Special Thank You to All Our Veterans!

veteran's day

Today we celebrate Veteran’s Day and remember all of those who fought and continue to fight to keep our country free. My grandfather was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War. I still recall his stories of those wars and how he contracted malaria while in the Philippines and was stabbed with an ice pick there and nearly lost his life. I remember his stories of  long train rides where he and his fellow soldiers had to stand the entire distance in cramped quarters. My cousin, Jim, proudly served in the Iraq War, and my uncles, father-in-law, and cousin also served.

A man I once interviewed, Tom Bell, was a member of a B-24 bomber crew in World War II.  During the interview for my book, Wyoming Treasures, (Medallion, 2005),  Tom told me “It’s a pretty fearsome thing to face death every two or three days for one week after another.” He would later succumb to an eye injury “We were flying to bomb an airfcraft ball bearing factory…it was one of the most heavily defended areas in Europe and the flak was very bad…We were flying at 25,000 feet, it was 40 below zero, approaching the target, and my bombsight was all ready. As we approached, I took one last look out, and as I did, a German piece of flak hit me and blew my right eye out…Plexiglas had also hit my left eye and one piece had been embedded in the cornea.” Fortunately a gifted doctor at the Mayo Clinic was able to save Tom’s left eye so he would still have sight from one eye.

Another man I had the honor to interview was also a World War II Vet.  John “Ace” Bonar was drafted into the War in 1943 and served for three years in Europe with the 86th Combat Division, known as “Black Hawk,” following the Battle of the Bulge. “It was a dangerous time. I was scared for my life all the time,” Ace told me. He recalled a particularly harrowing time. “‘The eight-eights [German anti-tank weapon] almost got us.’  A noise that sounded like thunder, produced by a large and dangerous weapon, shook the ground and reverberated in John’s direction.”  [Even decades after the War] when John heard thunder, “he relived the days when the sound was much more than a weather condition.”

So it is to you—veterans of all the wars in the past and those still happening today—thank you! We appreciate you and vow never to forget what you did for us and how you sacrificed your lives for us.

To our soldiers serving today—no words can ever express our gratitude to you. May God bless you and keep you safe. May you return home safely to your families and may we never forget the sacrifices you make daily to protect the citizens of the United States.

Happy Veteran’s Day!

Posted in miscellaneous

In Memory of Stacy Simmons

I just found out that a dear sister in Christ and fellow author, Stacy T. Simmons, died after complications from a surgery she had last week. This was so unexpected. Stacy was a sweet, sweet godly woman, an amazing writer, and so genuine.

We were praying her through your surgery, and it seemed all was well and that recovery was imminent.

Stacy was back to encouraging fellow writers, sharing posts, and was super excited about her new book. She was a guest on my blog just this past week for her latest release Christmas at the Cotswolds.

She is with Jesus now, and someday we will see her again. But my heart breaks for her family. Please uphold them in prayer.